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April 09, 2015

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I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am "special" in this regard. So I will indulge in a few more words on this topic with this in mind. If anything I am fortunate to have been born with a deep yearning for a higher calling, something far beyond that which the world can offer. What I have experienced spiritually is an utterly effulgent, limitless, very much present something. How can I even begin to describe it? It never makes sense, people just misunderstand. Conventional Zen doesn't even seem to want to understand it. Most of the modern teachers are not much (if at all) in contact with that stuff. Zen today, all based on tertiary or even more remote teachings, seems more about how to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted people and which social causes to get on board with than how to escape the cycle of birth and death and attain unsurpassed awakening. Look, I am not a very sophisticated Buddhist. In truth, I feel great despair because it seems I may be too stupid to ever understand the mysteries of the Tathagatagarbha, much less in this lifetime. I have wept bitterly with the knowledge of how far I have to go, how many more lifetimes, chained by impurities of my own making. So I rely on faith because quite frankly I am lost without it. I meditate like a turtle sunning his shell in the swamp, basking in the light of the Buddha. This is my provisional boat to the other shore. My earnest aspiration is to one day reach it. And if it were not for the compassion of the thus gone ones, I would be utterly lost.

n. yeti:

He sits, pervading the body with a pure, bright mind, so that there is no part of his entire body that is not pervaded by a pure, bright mind. ~ Sāmaññaphala Sutta (D 2)

Ian, sorry to interject because your comment wasn't directed to me, but what I have seen of modern American soto teachers and use of kung-ans or hua t'ou is more akin to Christian parables. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, I suppose, but does it point to the gateless gate? In my case I suppose I shouldn't even be commenting because I never used the hua t'ou method, and was able, at great pains, to make some progress without them. For me the problem with contemporary Soto is it forgets what this is all about, why wall gazing is only a purposeless activity with no goal other than sitting, in order to realize the Mind. When today's Soto teachers start getting into that aspect, they start to squirm about rebirth, karma, and the supra-mundane as if those things present in Indian Buddhism and Ch'an should be bleached out of the teachings. In short we have a bunch of people, who by some remote chance of habit energies are spiritually inclined, and yet not afforded the opportunity to let this mystical practice of deep awareness to take root and certify to the fruits, because there is little mention of there being much more to it than sitting and "engaging with oneself". I don't know about you, but I am not engaging with myself when I sit. I am basking in the light of the Unborn.

p.p.s.Does your opening sentence say the whole thing?-if the premise that Shikantaza is only about physical sitting is set to one side?Could the Rinzai approach be about awakening to Pure Mind through Ko-Ans and the Soto approach be about abiding in what we have awakened to through GENUINE shikantaza?I have heard that some soto teachers,including Dogen himself utilised ko-ans and hua t`ou as part of their teaching.

p.s.Sorry I can't cut and paste the links but I am writing this on an XBox-a kind of internet aesceticism :(.

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